How to Care for & Train a Livestock Guardian Dog
The Care & Training of a Livestock Guarding Dog and what we have learned here on the homestead.
What is a livestock dog?
Livestock guardian dogs are most of the time outside dogs that remain with a group of animals they protect as a full time member of the herd. Their ability to guard their herd is mostly instinctive, this helps when the dog is bonded to the herd from an early age. This is the opposite of herding dogs that controls movement, the livestock dog blends in with the pack to watch for intruders. The way they wade off unwanted predators such as coyotes or bobcats is by being present with loud barking to warn intruders.
Invaders don’t stand a chance against the watchful eye of Archer, our Great Pyrenees / Akbash mix. He is a working dog whose duties include protecting his flock, herding his posse and melting the hearts of all humans who dare to meet his gaze. He is the kindest, sweetest soul and is truly dedicated to his purpose. Rain or shine, Archer is there for his critters and is the greatest ranch hand a homestead could hope for. You can see in the pictures below he loves being a livestock dog.
What items do I need to purchase for a livestock dog?
Below this paragraph are the two best brushes I have found for Archer! We have trialled a few others and these ones are by far my favorite. One helps with the big knots around his tail and the smaller one can cut out the burrows of hair he gets around his ears. Every few weeks we need to brush him and he loves it. He enjoys when we are in the pasture with him! Archer, our favorite livestock boy has such a fluffy tail when you get through his whole body and get to his tail he sometimes loose interest - little tip try and start with the tail to make sure you get that part! This collar that I order two of at a time has a tag on the collar you can put his name, your phone, number and house address. I did not want a hanging tag on him in case it falls off or he gets it stuck in the fence some how. Our boy is funny he will go a few months with the collar on but then we will go on spurts where we will get them off and chew them up. I have just learned to order two a time for him. For the sport collar we like to use this when we have babies around him since he is about a year old we are trying to teach him to be gentle with the lambs & baby goats. When you get this collar I would get one that is waterproof and has at least a 500 ft yard reach. We do not have this on him all the time is it just when we are training our sweet boy!
These items I have learned are a must with our Livestock Dog:
Can livestock dogs be a family dog?
Raising a livestock guardian dog is different than raising a pet dog who lives with you in your home
In my option yes, but I do not think this type of dog will enjoy sleeping indoors with other dogs. Archer loves to protect his herd and he will spend time with us but after hanging out with our Labradors he will want back in with the goats and sheep. He prefers to be outside in the pasture and with all the animals at night time. He will bark to alter us of any intruders at all time of the evening. He is always watching them and is the best protector.
Livestock guarding dogs are independent and regal compared to other breeds and their independence shows when you call them - they might not come on the first call.
How does my livestock guardian dog learn about fence boundaries on property?
A huge part of the success of raising young puppies into amazing livestock guarding dogs is to teach them boundaries. We kept Archer in a small pen outside for 8 weeks old of having him. It worked out great I had my first bottle baby, Summer the same time we got him and they stayed in smaller cage together at night. (today they are still little best friends it is so cute!) We introduced him slowly with little increments of time to all the pasture animals but we did not keep him out there 24/7 right away. We let him grow and mature with the animals. He learned at an early age to walk to fence line with Trevor to teach him to search for the boundaries. The pasture he is in about a 2 acre section and he knows all the boundaries from walking around it and knowing the perimeters. If your livestock guarding dog tries to escape or dig under the fence that is unacceptable behavior and you need to stop that fast. The e-collar that I have listed in this post would be one good training tool. Archer, is very intelligent and he did not like to be told NO so it was easy to train him about perimeters or wanting to dig out the pen.
Archer was the member of our homestead I did not know we were missing. He has expanded our farm family and our hearts with his happy smiles daily and his strong independence taking care of the herds at night time. There has been a few times he has alerted us of predators at night and we were able to wake up and help him make them go away. You will not be disappointed about bringing a livestock guarding dog to your farm or homestead!
Thank you you for joining me here, if you have any other tips feel free to post below!